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Steve Nicol (born December 11, 1961 in Irvinemarker) is a Scottishmarker former professional soccer player. He is currently the head coach of New England Revolution in Major League Soccer.

As a player, Nicol was a significant member of the all-conquering Liverpool team of the 1980s, with whom he won four Football League First Division titles, three FA Cup winners medals, and the 1984 European Cup. After 14 years with Liverpool, Nicol also played with several other English teams, including Notts County, Sheffield Wednesday and Doncaster Rovers, before emigrating to the United States in 1999.

He was also a regular member of the Scotland national football team, and represented his country at the 1986 FIFA World Cup.

Playing career

Ayr United

Nicol started his career with Ayr United in 1979 and spent just over two seasons with the Scottish side, racking up 70 league appearances, before Liverpool manager Bob Paisley decided to pay, what turned out to be, a bargain price of £300,000 to bring Nicol to Anfieldmarker on the 26 October 1981.

Liverpool

Two years in the reserves followed as Nicol gained experience. He made his Reds debut on the 31 August 1982 in a 0–0 league draw with Birmingham City at St Andrewsmarker becoming a regular in 1983 under new boss Joe Fagan, he also scored his first goal for the club on 22 October 1983, in a 1–0 league victory over Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Roadmarker. He went on to win a League championship medal by the end of his first full season having not appeared enough times the previous season to qualify for a medal, however, he was not picked for the League Cup final victory over fierce Merseyside derby rivals Everton, the first ever all Merseyside final. He was selected for the European Cup final in Romemarker, Nicol played well and earned a winner's medal after a penalty shoot-out in which he missed his own spot-kick. Fortunately for Nicol A.S. Roma, playing in their home stadiummarker, subsequently failed to score two of their penalty kicks and Liverpool won.

Nicol became a first-team regular for many subsequent seasons, winning the League championship and FA Cup "double" in 1986 under the guidance of Kenny Dalglish, pipping Everton to the title by just two points and then beating them 3–1 in the first ever all Merseyside FA Cup final. He was also settling into an international career with Scotland which would ultimately yield 27 caps and a place in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexicomarker. Jock Stein gave Steve his international debut on the 12 September 1984 in a friendly with Yugoslavia, The Scots turned on the style for the 18, 512 Hampden Parkmarker crowd thumping the Eastern Europeans 6–1, helping Nicol to settle in somewhat were club mates Graeme Souness, who also captained the side, and Kenny Dalglish, both scoring.

A versatile player, he played most often at right back following the departure of Phil Neal in 1986, though he also featured at left back, in the centre of defence and as a midfield player, he even played up front on a couple of occasions. He earned the nickname 'Chopsy' because of how he pronounced the word 'chips'.

In 1988, Nicol was pretty much ever-present and actually began the season in goalscoring form, despite playing in a position not naturally conducive to attacking. This included a memorable hat-trick at Newcastle United and a phenomenal long-range header at Arsenal. Nicol's defensive qualities were also much admired as Liverpool coasted to the League title but missed out on another "double" when Wimbledon surprisingly beat them 1–0 in the FA Cup final at Wembleymarker. Nicol was the last Liverpool player to have a chance to equalise and force extra-time, his diving header in injury time flying narrowly over the crossbar.

A year later, Nicol accompanied his team-mates to many of the funerals and memorial services of the 96 fans who died at the Hillsborough disaster and played his part as Liverpool won the FA Cup against Everton, winning 3–2 after extra time, but lost the League title in a decider against Arsenal with virtually the last kick of the season. The campaign ended on a personal high for Nicol as he was named Footballer Of The Year by football writers. Like many others in the Liverpool squad, Hillsborough was the second tragedy Nicol had witnessed, four years earlier just before the 1985 European Cup final at the Heysel Stadiummarker, Brusselsmarker football hooligans had charged a section of, mainly, Juventus supporters causing a retaining wall to collapse killing 39 people,

When Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 9–0 the following season to accumulate the club's biggest-ever League victory, Nicol was the only player to score twice, getting the first and last goals of the game in the seventh and 90th minutes. Liverpool regained the League title that season – their last to date - and, two years later, Nicol was in the team which, under Graeme Souness, won the FA Cup again in 1992 this time beating Sunderland 2–0.

Notts County

Nicol stayed at Liverpool until 20 January 1995 when he took on the a player-coach role at Notts County, he stayed in the role for just 10 months playing 22 times, although he did receive his first taste of management at Meadow Lanemarker when he took charge of the club with two other players for the final month’s of the Magpies disastrous 1995–96 campaign. Unfortunately his efforts were not enough to save Notts County from relegation to Division Two.

Sheffield Wednesday

Following the end of the season, Nicol next moved to Sheffield Wednesday in the November of '95, where he made his debut against former derby rivals Everton at Goodison Parkmarker on the 25 November a game which ended in a 2–2 draw. However, probably Steve's best memory of his time at Hillsborough happened on the 7 December 1996 when his Wednesday side travelled to his old stomping ground of Anfield, the Sheffieldmarker side completely nullified the Liverpool attack, which contained the likes of Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and John Barnes, and came away with a surprise 1–0 victory with Nicol playing a major part in the Wednesday defence.

English lower-divisions, move to America

Nicol went on to make 49 league appearances before spending a spell on loan at West Bromwich Albion during the 1997–98 season where he played nine games. He then had a short spell with Doncaster Rovers before heading to the U.S. to take a player-coach position with Boston Bulldogs of the A-League in 1999.

In September of that year, he took over as interim player-coach with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer for the final two games of the season, winning both. He returned to Boston Bulldogs as player-coach for the 2000 and 2001 seasons before re-joining the Revs in 2002 as an assistant coach.

Coaching career

Nicol took over as head coach of New England Revolution on an interim basis initially, then permanently after 21 games, leading the team to the MLS Cup that season, and was named MLS Coach of the Year in his first year. The team has advanced to the MLS Eastern Conference Finals in each of his years as coach until 2008, and returned to the MLS Cup in 2005, 2006, and 2007. Nicol's Revolution has the unique distinction of having not scored a goal in regulation time in the first three of their four final appearances (losing all four). One of the coaches who worked under him is ex-Plymouth Argyle Ipswich Town, Arsenal and England centre forward Paul Mariner.

Personal

Nicol lives in Hopkinton, Massachusettsmarker, with his wife Eleanor, their children Michael and Katy, and one grandson, Patrick. He was once considered to be a possible successor to Bruce Arena as full-time coach of the United States Men's National Team.

Nicol still holds a place in the hearts of Liverpool supporters everywhere, this was shown in the 2006 poll 100 Players Who Shook The Kop which was compiled by the official Liverpool Football Club web site. 110,000 supporters worldwide took part in the poll in which they had to supply their favourite 10 Reds of all time. Nicol came in at a more than respectable 39th position. He is 17th in the all time list of appearances for Liverpool, with a total of 468 games for the Reds.

Honours

 Liverpool


Runner-up

 New England Revolution


See also



References

  1. New England Revolution profile


External links




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